Volume 3, Issue 37
Fluttering saffron leaves wave at me through all the windows that surround. It is another ecstatic autumn day here in the Hudson Valley. Inside the house, décor projections of Lalita’s beauty catch my eye as I sit to write to you.
The subject as always is living in the Flow state (the Zone), and employing psychotechnology to get there. My recurring theme: it’s easiest to get there through an earlier state of awareness, the Observer state.
Educators at their best have toyed with the notion of providing courses in Thinking (click and scroll to Majoring in Thinking), allowing students to major in it. The second article at this link uses the term “metacognition” to describe thinking about thinking, and being cognizant of one’s own prior thought. This is exactly the Observer state if one is focused only on the thinking dimension, but instead of thinking out of the box, folks ought to consider getting out of the box called thinking. There is also intuition, perception, and emotion to be cognizant of within oneself. The Observer state then is to be aware of all of this stuff that is going on within, without losing observant attention to the apparently-outside world. So in the end it is all about attention.
Brilliant psychological work has been done by Piaget in recognizing the high abstract level of thinking he dubbed the Formal Operational Level. In my new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, I suggest that as a race we reached this level for the first time when cave paintings and then written language appeared, which happened only very recently in our embryonic species career. This triggered such acceleration in information input to each of us that we mostly operate below the Piagetian level due to distraction. More recently other brilliant psychologists and researchers have named a new even-higher level of thinking called Systems Thinking; however, one is still locked into the trap of acting as if thinking is the whole of the self. Flow state and even Observer state require that one is in one’s body feeling the emotions, receiving the perceptions, and attuned to the subtle guidance system of the intuition. In fact the intuition is the most valuable platform in terms of Systems Thinking, where the more precise term might be Systems Perception.
Within the sphere of the emotions there is a crucial dimension called motivation. Here the leading psychological minds of the twentieth century include Maslow and Erikson, each of whom offers a specific set of levels the individual passes through on the ladder to the highest states of consciousness. At Maslow’s highest stage, one is motivated by morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts. This is a very good description of the Observer state, and the spontaneity part of it is suggestive of the Flow state.
In fact it is the lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts that best characterizes the Observer state among Maslow’s list of terms. Below the Observer state one is operating through a distortion lens caused by wounds one has received and habitual defensive patterns one has robotically adopted to cope with these wounds.
Wrestling the angel in transcending the wounded ego self, which is the true/higher inner jihad, one learns the traps one’s opponent (the ego) gets one into, and the escapes by which one extricates one’s higher true self. Incoming gets autoclassified by the ego self and this autotriggers certain reactions —look for these reactions and let them float downstream, disidentifying with and annihilating them. This keeps or gets one into the Observer state, the launch pad from which Flow can occur. Emotional reactions to be on guard against are: anger, negative judgment, unease/fear, envy, and irritation/impatience.
These emotional reactions are signs of the nonacceptance of fact, and the existence of prejudice in oneself. One is projecting a subjective expectation rather than observing objectively. This reduces one’s problem-solving ability, bringing one down below the Formal Operational Level.
Woodstock Roundtable host Doug Grunther, himself a psychologist and dream therapist who has interviewed many deep thinkers, commented in a recent radio interview with me that “higher” states of consciousness ought to really be called “deeper” states of consciousness, because these states come from deep down within oneself. I would agree and add that they come from deep down within the One Self too. So in what sense are they “higher”?
The stated purpose of my nonprofit Human Effectiveness Institute is the improvement of decision making. Our objective in understanding psychotechnology and getting more people into Observer and Flow states more often is so that we can run ourselves and the world better, be more competent, more effective, more creative. “Deeper” may be more descriptive and explanatory, but “higher” illustrates the rise from lower dysfunctional levels.
Takeaway: notice and nullify the prejudicial instant reactions of anger, negative judgment, unease/fear, envy, and irritation/impatience. Accept the facts and get on with finding creative and effective solutions. This will bring more pleasure to you and yours, and radiate outward as positive energy to the ends of the universe.
Best to all,
Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.